UNSECURITY Episode 121 Show Notes

Happy Tuesday! It’s time to get ready for another episode (#121) of the UNSECURITY Podcast!

Not sure if you caught it last week, but there was an open U.S. Senate hearing on Tuesday (2/23). The hearing was titled “Hearing on the Hack of U.S. Networks by a Foreign Adversary” and lasted about two and a half hours. The hearing was about the events surrounding the SolarWinds Orion Hack, and what we can do to prevent (or at least reduce the likelihood of) similar events in the future. Witnesses included some well-known people in our industry:

  • Kevin Mandia, CEO of FireEye
  • Sudhakar Ramakrishna, CEO of Solarwinds
  • Brad Smith, President of Microsoft
  • George Kurtz, President and CEO of CrowdStrike

This hearing was a big deal because U.S. policymakers are trying to figure out what to do, and how “to make sure this doesn’t happen again.” If policy makers draft policy based solely on what these witnesses said, we might be in some serious trouble!

There were some really interesting things said during the hearing, and we’re going to share our thoughts on today’s show.

So, let’s do this! These are the notes for episode 121 of the UNSECURITY Podcast.

SHOW NOTES – Episode 121 – Tuesday March 1st, 2021


[Evan] Welcome listeners! Thanks for tuning into this episode of the UNSECURITY Podcast. This is episode 121, the date is March 2nd, 2021, and joining me as usual is my good friend, Brad Nigh. Good morning Brad!

Quick Catching Up

  • What’s new?
    • Working on S2Org r3, IR assessment, and other things.
    • The Gray Matter Society
    • Who would make a good guest next week?
  • Anything else new at FRSecure and/or SecurityStudio?

The Meat

Open Hearing: Hearing on the Hack of U.S. Networks by a Foreign Adversary –

  • Kevin Mandia’s Opening Statement –
  • Sudhakar Ramakrishna’s Opening Statement –
  • Brad Smith’s Opening Statement –
  • George Kurtz’s Opening Statement –
  • The hearing went ~2 1/2 hours, did you make it through it all?
  • So, Amazon Web Services didn’t show up. They haven’t been forthcoming or helpful
  • An interesting Q&A (starting at 1:22:08) from Senator Wyden (D-OR)
    • Senator Wyden: The impression that the American people might get from this hearing is that the hackers are such formidable adversaries that there was nothing that the American government or our biggest tech companies could have done to protect themselves. My view is that message leads to privacy violating laws and billions of more taxpayer funds for cybersecurity. Now it might be embarrassing, but the first order of business has to be identifying where well-know cybersecurity measures could have mitigated the damage caused by the breach. For example, there are concrete ways for the government to improve its ability to identify hackers without resorting to warrantless monitoring of the domestic internet. So, my first question is about properly configured firewalls. Now the initial malware in SolarWinds Orion software was basically harmless. It was only after that malware called home that the hackers took control, and this is consistent with what the Internal Revenue Service told me. Which is while the IRS installed Orion, their server was not connected to the Internet, and so the malware couldn’t communicate with the hackers. So, this raises the question of why other agencies didn’t take steps to stop the malware from calling home. So, my question will be for Mr. Ramakrishna, and I indicated to your folks I was going to ask this. You stated that the back door only worked if Orion had access to the internet, which was not required for Orion to operate. In your view, shouldn’t government agencies using Orion have installed it on servers that were either completely disconnected from the internet, or were behind firewalls that blocked access to the outside world?
    • Mr. Ramakrishna: Thanks for the question Senator Wyden. It is true that the Orion platform software does not need connectivity to the internet for it to perform its regular duties, which could be network monitoring,  system monitoring, application monitoring on premises of our customers.
    • Senator Wyden: Yeah, it just seems to me what I’m asking about is network security 101, and any responsible organization wouldn’t allow software with this level of access to internal systems to connect to the outside world, and you basically said almost the same thing. My question then, for all of you is, the idea that organizations should use firewalls to control what parts of their networks are connected to the outside world  is not exactly brand new. NSA recommends that organizations only allow traffic that is required for operational tasks, all other traffic ought to be denied. And NIST, the standards and technology group recommends that firewall policies should be based on blocking all inbound and outbound traffic with exceptions made for desired traffic. So, I would like to go down the row and ask each one of you for a “yes” or “no” answer whether you agree with the firewall advice that would really offer a measure of protection from the NSA and NIST. Just yes or no, and ah, if I don’t have my glasses on maybe I can’t see all the name tags, but let’s just go down the row.
    • Mr. Mandia: And I’m gonna give you the “it depends”. The bottom line is this, we do over 6oo red teams a year, firewalls have never stopped one of them. A firewall is like having a gate guard outside a New York City apartment building, and they can recognize if you live there or not, and some attackers are perfectly disguised as someone who lives in the building and walks right by the gate guard. It’s ah, in theory, it’s a sound thing, but it’s academic. In practice it is operationally cumbersome.
    • Senator Wyden: I don’t want to use up all my time. We’ll say that your response to NSA and the National Institute of Standards is “it depends”. Let’s just go down the row.
    • Mr. Ramakrishna: So my answer Senator is “yes”. Do standards such as NIST 800-53 and others that define specific guidelines and rules.
    • Senator Wyden: Very good.
    • Mr. Smith: I’m squarely in the “it depends” camp.
    • Senator Wyden: OK.
    • Mr. Smith: For the same reasons that Kevin said.
    • Senator Wyden: OK, I think we have one other person, don’t we?
    • Mr. Kurtz: Yes, and I would say firewalls help, but are insufficient, and as Kevin said, and I would agree with him. There isn’t a breach that we’ve investigated that the company didn’t have a firewall or even legacy antivirus. So, when you look at the capabilities of a firewall, they’re needed, but certainly they’re not be all end goal, and generally they’re a speed bump on the information super highway for the bad guys.
    • Senator Wyden: I’m going to close, and uh, my colleagues are all waiting. Bottom line for me is that multiple agencies were still breached under your watch by hackers exploiting techniques that experts had warned about for years. So, in the days ahead it’s gonna be critical that you give this committee assurances that spending billions of dollars more after there weren’t steps to prevent disastrous attacks that experts had been warning about was a good investment. So, that discussion is something we’ll have to continue, thank you Mr. Chairman.
  • Other thoughts and discussion about the hearing.
  • There was general consensus amongst the witnesses that there’s a strong need for mandatory reporting of cyber attacks


News stories to cover this week, include:

Wrapping Up – Shout Outs

Good talk! It will be interesting to see what legislation comes out of Washington in response to SolarWinds.

  • Who’s getting shout outs this week?
  • Closing – Thank you to all our listeners! Send things to us by email at If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m @evanfrancen and Brad’s @BradNigh. Other Twitter handles where you can find some of the stuff we do, UNSECURITY is @unsecurityP, SecurityStudio is @studiosecurity, and FRSecure is @FRSecure. That’s it. Talk to you all again next week!

…and we’re done.

The UNSECURITY Podcast – Episode 88 Show Notes – Women in Security Pt5

We continue the Women in Security series this week with another great guest!

Women in Security Series

The Women in Security series continues to get better each week. Brad and I started this series because we wanted to learn more about challenges women face in the information security industry. It would be shallow and dry if Brad and I chose to discuss this subject ourselves. Instead, we chose to interview women that we know and ones who were referred to us.

What better way to get a woman’s perspective on things than to ask them directly?!

So far, we’ve had four women join us as guests on the show. Each woman brought her own set of experiences, perspectives, and opinions. No two guests have been alike, and we’ve learned a TON!

Here’s our guest line up thus far:

  • Episode 84 – Renay Ruter (an information security business/IT executive)
  • Episode 85 – Lori Blair (a 35-year information security veteran)
  • Episode 86 – Victoria Fogarty (relatively new to the industry)
  • Episode 87 – Kristin Judge (founder and CEO of the Cybercrime Support Network, SC Media “Women in IT Security Influencer” in 2017, former Director of Government Affairs at the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), thought leader, and all-around amazing information security expert)
  • Episode 88 – Andrea Hatcher (Today’s Show) (Senior majoring in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations at Pennsylvania State University)
  • Episode 89 – Judy Hatchett (Information security corporate leader and expert formerly with Accenture, Best Buy, SUPERVALU, 3M, Fairview Health Services, and current VP, Information Security and CISO at Surescripts)
  • Episode 90 – Amy McLaughlin (Information security leader and expert in education, having served with the State of Oregon, the Consortium for School Network (CoSN), Chemeketa Community College, and Oregon State University)
  • Episode 91 – Theresa Semmens (Chief Information Security Officer at the Nevada System of Higher Education, former AVP/Chief Information Security Officer at the University of Miami, and former Chief Information Security Officer at North Dakota State University)
    /not-yet-confirmed (information security executive in healthcare, CISO in higher education, or senior information security sales executive)
  • Episode 92 – Lee Ann Villella (Senior Enterprise Security Sales Consultant at FRSecure, Program Director for the Minnesota Chapter of the Information Systems Security Association, and member of the Cyber Security Summit Advisory Board Committee)
  • Episode 93 – TBD/not-yet-confirmed (information security executive in healthcare, CISO in higher education, or senior information security sales executive)

This is an amazing lineup of information security professionals! These women represent our information security industry extremely well, and we’re honored to speak with each of them on our show!

Here’s what we’ve done so far…

Women in Security Series – Part One

We kicked off the Women in Security series on June 15th, and we couldn’t have chosen a better first guest! Renay Rutter, FRSecure’s COO, got the series started by sharing the experience, wisdom, and insight she’s gained over her 30+ year IT career. Renay expressed how important it has been for her to be strong throughout her career, and in her opinion, women need to be strong to survive in the information security industry. This was a great show!

If you missed this episode, you can catch up here;

Thank you Renay!

Women in Security Series – Part Two

We kept things in the FRSecure family for week two, hosting Lori Blair. Lori is full of information security knowledge and wisdom! She started her career in the industry in 1985, working for the federal government. Over the next 35 years, she’s traveled the world helping organizations with their information security needs and held various leadership positions. She’s excelled everywhere she’s gone and even found time to raise children along the way! Today, Lori is a Senior Information Security Consultant at FRSecure, tackling difficult challenges and mentoring other women.

I have a TON of respect for Lori, and her opinions carry weight for me (and many others). It’s not just her experience that makes Lori amazing, she’s a wonderful, practical, and level-headed person who loves mentoring others. This is a can’t miss episode, go give a listen here;

Thank you Lori!

Women in Security Series – Part Three

We welcomed up and comer Victoria Fogarty to the show for Part Three. Victoria is an Associate Information Security Analyst at FRSecure, where she started her career in 2019. She possesses natural gifts for this industry, and her perspectives were fresh. She’s intelligent, relatable, and an excellent communicator. She did a great job explaining how she researched a career in information security while she was an Insurance Adjuster, a job she disliked. Her journey is pretty cool so far, and her future is VERY bright! She even shared a shocker (at least for Brad and me) in this episode. Definitely worth the listen!

If you missed episode 86, here it is;

Thank you Victoria!

Women in Security Series – Part Four

Kristin was our first non-FRSecure guest in the series. This was a great interview! Kristin shared how she got her introduction to information security while she was serving as an elected official (Washtenaw County Commissioner). She has an incredible journey so far, especially considering she has only been in the industry for a little more than 10 years.

She held some very exciting roles before founding the Cybercrime Support Network in late-2017. Her passion for helping people is inspiring, and we’re looking forward to making a difference in this industry together!

Learn about Kristin Judge, her journey, her opinions, and her work founding and running the Cybercrime Support Network in episode 87. If you missed it, go give it a listen;

Truly an amazing person; we loved chatting with her!

Thank you Kristin!

This brings us to today’s episode…

Women in Security Series – Part Five

Today we welcome Andrea Hatcher to the show! Andrea is a Senior at Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), majoring in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations. Andrea is an avid listener to our show who contacted us through email. We invited her to be our guest, and we’re thrilled she accepted! We’ve only talked to Andrea once; a brief telephone call to prep her a little for her time in the spotlight. 🙂

Can’t wait to get Andrea’s take on things!


Let’s get to the show, shall we?

I’m (Evan) leading the show this week, and these are my notes…

SHOW NOTES – Episode 88

Date: Monday, July 13th, 2020

Episode 88 Topics

  • Opening
  • Introducing Our Special Guest: Andrea Hatcher (Penn State Senior majoring in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations)
  • Catching Up (as per usual)
  • Women in Security
  • News
  • Wrapping Up – Shout outs

[Evan] Hey there! Thanks for joining us for episode 88 of the UNSECURITY Podcast. Today is July 13th, 2020, and I’m your host, Evan Francen. I’m joined by my good friend and co-worker, Brad Nigh. Good morning Brad!

[Brad] Cue Brad!

[Evan] Today we’re doing Part Five of the Women in Security Series, and I’m excited to welcome our guest! She’s a Senior at Penn State University, majoring in Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations, and her name is Andrea Hatcher. Welcome Andrea!

[Andrea] Cue Andrea!

[Evan] I’m especially excited for today’s show for a couple of reasons. One, because Andrea is just beginning her information security career journey and we get to play a small part in it, and two, Andrea is a fan of the show. Fans of the show are the best fans in my opinion! 😉 Thanks again for agreeing to be on the podcast Andrea.

[Andrea] Cue Andrea again…

[Evan] First things first. Before we get too deep, we gotta check in.

Catching Up

Quick discussion about last week, the weekend, or whatever else comes to mind.

  • How are you guys?
  • Tell me about your weekend quick.
  • Anything in particular that you’re excited about?

[Evan] Thanks guys! Alright, let’s get to it.

Women in Security, Part Five

[Evan] This is Part Five of the Women in Security series, and each week just gets better and better. The purpose behind the series is bring to light the unique experiences, perspectives, and opinions of women in our industry in the hopes of making the path smoother and more inviting for others. We’re doing this by inviting women as guests of our show to share with us. They’re sharing their experience, their wisdom, and their opinions on a variety of topics.

We purposely chose women at various stages of their career and in various roles. The more varied the perspectives, the better the learning for all of us. That’s the theory anyway.

All that being said, let’s get back to our current guest, Andrea Hatcher!

Do we have a shortage of women in our industry? If so, what’s the big deal? Why is the topic important for us to talk about? Lot’s of questions and I’m sure just about everyone has an opinion. Instead of people listening to our opinions, we’re going to talk to the people this relates to the most; women! What better way to get a woman’s perspective on things than to talk to a woman? Let’s do this.

Open Discussion (~30 minutes)

  • How did you get started? Why information security?
  • How soon do you graduate? Got a dream job in mind?
  • Tell us about any internships you might have coming up.
  • Tell us about the Penn State Cybersecurity Analytics and Operations major.
    • How big are the classes?
    • Did you have to qualify to get accepted into the program?
    • What’s the gender ratio?
    • What do your family and friends think about your major?
  • What challenges or difficulties have you encountered so far?
  • Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
  • Have you heard about our (alleged) industry talent shortage?
    • Do you think we need more women in our industry and why?
    • Opinions about the talent shortage in our industry.
  • What can we do better in recruiting more people, and specifically more women in our industry?
  • Whatever else we’d like to share.

[Evan] Thanks again for joining us Andrea! We’re very excited about your future and we’re sure you’ll be great!

Now it’s time for some news. Andrea, please stick around. If you’ve got anything to add to our commentary, please don’t hesitate.


[Evan] More newsy things…

Wrapping Up – Shout outs

[Evan] There you have it! Episode 88 is a wrap. Well, almost. Thank you Andrea for a joining us and making this fifth installment of to the Women in Security series a great one! Next week, we welcome another great guest, Judy Hatchett. Judy is a very skilled enterprise information security leader.

Either of you have any shout outs this week?

[Brad and/or Andrea] We’ll see.

[Evan] We appreciate you, our listeners. If you’ve got something to say to us on the show, send us an email at If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter. We finally set up an UNSECURITY Podcast Twitter account; @UnsecurityP. If you want to socialize with Brad, he’s @BradNigh. If you want to socialize with me, I’m @evanfrancen. Andrea, do you want people to get in touch with you? If so, how should they?

Lastly, be sure to follow SecurityStudio (@studiosecurity) and FRSecure (@FRSecure) for more goodies.

That’s it! Talk to you all again next week!

The UNSECURITY Podcast – Episode 54 Show Notes

Show notes are almost on time this week! Yay us.

I started writing our show notes on Thursday night in the Salt Lake City airport, and now I’m finishing them on a plane back from LA. Ugh. The life.

This was a crazy week, but what’s new? While Brad’s been bustin’ his tail keeping up with FRSecure’s sales and operations, I’ve been traveling the country on the SecurityStudio Roadshow. My travels this week took me to Rochester (NY), Baltimore (MD – layover), Kansas City (MO), Salt Lake City (UT – layover), Sacramento (CA), and Los Angeles (CA – layover).

I’m supposed to get home late on Friday night. We’ll see. 🙂

If you’d like to follow the SecurityStudio Roadshow, I write a recap every week on my/this site. Keep up with me, and give me some BBQ tips.

I’ve met some amazing people on my travels, and one really cool cat is Kenneth Bechtel. I met Kenneth during week one of the SecurityStudio Roadshow. On week one, John Harmon and I traveled to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania for BSides. I was speaking in a mid-morning session and Kenneth was the keynote speaker.

I have a lot of respect for Kenneth because he’s been at his game for a long time. He’s been doing threat hunting before threat hunting was a thing. Big props to this guy. During our time together at BSides, Kenneth shared his recent troubles finding a job. This bugs me. So, I invited him to be a guest on the podcast.

We’re honored to have him share some of his wisdom. We’ll try to get to the bottom of his job search struggle too.

Special thanks to Brandon Matis for putting together last week’s anniversary show! That couldn’t have been easy.

Pretty sure I’m supposed to lead this episode, so here goes.

My show to lead this week and these are my notes.

SHOW NOTES – Episode 54

Date: Monday, November 18th, 2019

Show Topics:

Our topics this week:

  • What’s up man?
  • Introducing Kenneth Bechtel
    • The earlier days versus today. What’s changed and what’s the same?
    • The (alleged) infosec labor crunch. Kenneth isn’t the first person who’s had trouble finding work. What gives?
  • New show ideas
  • News

[Evan] Hey UNSECURITY Podcast listeners! This is episode 54, and the date is November 18th, 2019. I’m Evan Francen, and it’s my show this week. Brad’s here with me too. Care to chime in Brad?

[BradYou know he’s got something to say. Probably something good too!

[Evan] Alright, we’ve got another great show planned!

  • Brad and I are going to catchup with our craziness quick.
  • We’re going to get real with a true information security pioneer Kenneth Bechtel. He’s got an incredible amount of wisdom to share and we want to get to the bottom of why people like Kenneth are not getting hired when we have this alleged talent shortage.
  • We’ll talk about an upcoming show idea that we have, then we’ll wrap with some newsy things.

I’m pumped about this show! So, let’s get on with it, eh?

[Brad] Brad’ll agree probably.

[Evan] So, what’s up man?! I’ve been out for the past two weeks preaching to folks everywhere and stuff. I missed you man.

Catchin’ up with Brad (quick)

[Evan] Alright, enough of that. We are excited and honored to have Kenneth Bechtel on the phone, so let’s welcome him. Hi Kenneth.

[Kenneth] He’ll confirm (unless of course we have some tech issue or something).

[Evan] Can’t tell you how grateful and pumped we are to have you on the show! We’re going to get to know each other more, and discuss things. I’d like to start off with you telling us about you, then we can talk about how the industry has evolved, then lastly, let’s discuss this whole infosec talent shortage thing.

I found an old photo of you on your Team Anti-Virus website.

About Kenneth:

I have been actively involved in Anti-Malware defense and research since 1988 at both a corporate and international level, with close ties to the international Anti-Malware efforts and fellow researchers.

In the corporate world, I have worked as both a Virus Laboratory and Field researcher for major organizations, providing expert support for malware outbreaks.

Internationally, I was a Founding Members of AVIEN – Anti-Virus Information Exchange Network, and served as Chairman of its Disciplinary Committee and well as member of the Advisory Board to the Administrator.

I have presented at international conferences, including the Virus Bulletin Conference, at which I am a regular attendee.

My work has been published in trade magazines and specialized websites such as Security Focus.

I have written a handbook on Anti-Virus Security and was one of the co-authors of the AVIEN Malware Defense Guide. 

I am regularly asked to speak at small organization and company conferences and training seminars.

Media requests, Opportunities and general inquiries are welcome at

Discussion with Kenneth Bechtel
  • Introductions
  • The earlier days versus today. What’s changed and what’s the same?
  • The (alleged) infosec labor crunch. Kenneth isn’t the first person who’s had trouble finding work. What gives?
  • Your recent post about your cowboy hat

[Evan] Alright. Let’s see what we can do here to help each other. Kenneth, I sincerely appreciate your tireless work for this industry and for being on our show!


[Evan] Some interesting news stories for us to discuss this week. The first one is interesting because we’ve warned about this and sadly things are going to get much worse before they get better.


[Evan] OK, cool! Episode 54 is a wrap. Thank you again Kenneth for being on our show. I think our discussion will benefit others!

Thank you to our listeners! Keep the questions and feedback coming. We love it, well Brad does, but I don’t. Send things to us by email at If you’re the social type, socialize with us on Twitter, I’m @evanfrancen, and Brad’s @BradNigh. Kenneth, do you have a way you want people to socialize with you?

Follow SecurityStudio (@studiosecurity) and FRSecure (@FRSecure) for more goodies!

That’s it! Talk to you all again next week!